March 17, 2004

Knowledge is loss of innocence. Innocence is lack of knowledge external to the ego.

The innocent state is one of ignorance, to some extent of self but especially of others. The innocent can only exist in a me-centric world, being completely unaware both of this and that any other type of existence is possible. Although innocence does not preclude interaction with others, all interaction with others must circle around the needs of the ego alone without consideration for the other, because the other does not exist except as a projection and reflection of ego. For all intents and purposes, the other exists only insofar as it meets the needs of the ego. This can lead to the innocent being perceived as isolated, autistic, or even bully (per Parzifal). To some extent these will also be immediate needs: for temporal projection and consideration of alternate temporal possibilities also demand an ability to step outside the ego and to take into consideration the other.

To gain knowledge of the other as different from the ego is to lose innocence and is the beginning of empathy. Empathy and innocence are incompatible. The more one learns of others, the more one is capable of empathising, and the greater one's loss of innocence. (Are there degrees of loss of innocence?) If there are indeed two major types of humour (uniting and separating), the ability to laugh at oneself or at events is a recognition that perspective can exist outside the immediate ego -- and thus this first type of humour is also loss of innocence. (The second type of humour, the separating ability to laugh at/mock others, is not.)

One can choose to attempt to retain innocence by deliberately avoiding or rejecting knowledge deriving from other possibility -- especially where such knowledge would make it impossible to continue to maintain an isolating, ego-centric perspective. To some extent an innocent is protected from such knowledge by the inability to empathise, since it is easier to gain such knowledge through empathy, and conversely such knowledge makes it easier to empathise: the innocent being entirely outside this mutually enhancing feedback loop.

Where an entire society is isolated from knowledge of the other, there may also be such a thing as societal innocence.

There is at least one more step beyond innocence and loss of innocence through knowledge: where the ego, having recognised separation and difference of other and learned to interact in the "what if?" of empathy, expands to accept the other within the ego. Thus one moves from isolation to projecting interaction (innocence) to awareness of separation/difference and empathising interaction (loss of innocence) to absorption of separation/difference and encompassing interaction. This last is not and must not be a regaining of innocence (which would rather lead to determined re-separation), but rather a complete acceptance of knowledge of the other as a part of the Self, as a part of the Whole.

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